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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Humor: Turbulence In The Indian Kitchen!

“Hey pal, what is your menu tonight?”
“Menu is quite luring! But, you see, it has gone to the authorities for approval. Finally we’ll have what they want us to eat!”

This is the popular refrain doing the rounds in the mammoth aftermath of the Ban Culture initiated in several states of the largest democracy called India. So much heat is generated over the matter that it threatens to replace the still rampant Bandh or Closure Culture. The ban is mostly on meat—ranging from chicken to all kinds of red meat. Somehow fish is spared with some authoritative people saying that fish is not slaughtered. Well, if fish is not slaughtered then it is definitely left to die taken out of water. Now, which is crueler to animals? The debate is very interesting, but not at all appetizing.

Turbulence is not entirely a new phenomenon for the Indian kitchen. It has been there since time immemorial thanks to the eternal politics concerning the full right or jurisdiction over the kitchen area. Let it be the traditional village kitchen or the most modern one, the lady of the house normally exerts her full authority. The male members are easily handled out because of their presumed susceptibility to supposedly messing up the act of cooking rather than being a help. Real trouble brews when the daughter-in-law moves in. Politicking is rampant in any household still persisting with the joint family tradition.

Interestingly, the joint family system is very symbolic of the basic conflicts that are equally true for the country. Eating or not eating preferences of certain members lead to creating power centres. One centre prevails upon the other to impose those preferences. Surprisingly, no power centre ever tries to mutually settle the issues asking all disputing parties to respect each other’s choices.

Some smart ones, of course, play down the whole matter. They just stockpile the ‘food’ in their freezers to feast even on ban days. However, they are not aware of the fact that their preferred ‘aroma’ could very well be a ‘stench’ to some and those could very well report the ‘stench’ matter to the appropriate authority. Nosing around others kitchen matters has been a celebrated trait of the Indians. Then, there is the more troublesome eventuality of being found violating official orders.

If one is capable of doing a simultaneous survey of all the kitchens across the country from north to south and from west to the north east at one point of time they would be overwhelmed with the mind-boggling variety of cuisines and aromas. This immense diversity of tastes should indeed be a matter of great pride for our countrymen and a huge challenge for the hotel industry. If gourmet is okay for us why not then you be a connoisseur too.  

Kitchen is a vital place that makes our gastronomical dreams become realities. In all decency one should stop smelling around a lot and withdraw from asking constantly ‘what’s cooking’ to unsuspecting citizens of the country. Maybe this change of ‘food’ mindset would make the authorities to see reason too. Not eating has been a major weapon of politicking in India. In technical parlance this is called fasting. As far as eating is concerned this should best be left to the eaters alone.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Deadpan Pangs!

I thought had I punched him hard on his firmly set jaws I might have had some emotional reaction from him. Of course, to that extreme extent I could never have proceeded thanks to my perseveringly peaceful nature, office decorum and possible police involvement. I had to think of that violent possibility, because it showed my pent-up frustration that I could vent only through my wordy violence, as much as I was capable of doing so.

I was pulling up my technical associate for not settling an important file concerning corporate clients despite my repeated reminders from time to time—gentle in the beginning and slowly growing sharper as the interminable delay continued. I could not ignore it any longer and first thing I did on that day was to summon  him. Immediately I started firing him all barrels and guns. And there he sat in front of me, staring up at me without a word as if wishing to be through with the ordeal or if at all as soon as possible. His firmly shut mouth showed no fear or sorrow or anger or regret. There was not the slightest trace of any emotion in his eyes. His stoic body language too never betrayed any discomfort.

Failing to elicit any kind of reaction or emotion, forget an admission of guilt or an apology, my fury and frustration grew. When you think you are justified in firing up someone you expect some emotion or reaction from him/her that somewhat soothes you and assures you of some positive results. But not for this deadpan guy. Earlier anecdotes started coming to my mind now. On numerous occasions whenever I asked him to do a job he would never affirm it or refuse it. He would not say yes or no. His deadpan expression would never convey to me of any forthcoming action or no action. Eventually some of the assignments he would complete and some would keep on pending indefinitely. I had to adopt myself to a formula of compromise, patience and anger-management apart from most of the jobs that I could do on my own, entirely. However, I hoped the ultimate showdown that I thought I had to unleash some day would at least have had some impact on him without being successful in changing his stoic attitude.

I was getting desperate. How long could I go on firing my salvos without having anything to show as an effect? He continued to sit immobile and stare at me, expressionless. As I was fast getting unsure what to do next, fortunately, the associate’s mobile phone rang. Nonchalantly, he took it and stared at the screen. To my surprise he got up immediately and moved away from me answering the call. Now it was my turn to offer a deadpan face not knowing what to expect or what to expect not as I continued to sit at my desk.

From the passage I heard him speaking on his phone. A series of incomprehensible words, rather noise. His voice seemed to have covered all the notes in all the three octaves. Sometimes shrill beyond recognition, sometimes subdued and sometimes plain-sounding angry. It was a staccato of non-stop syllables delivered at immense speed. He was speaking in his own language and, even otherwise I could not have followed him. But I was sure that he was showing all kinds of emotions a human being was capable of displaying. I was at my wit’s end.

Afterwards, as I took a post-lunch stroll in the passage I called the peon, a smart and lively boy.
“Who was my associate speaking to so heatedly? You know his language, no?”, I asked him.

Apt came in the reply, “Sir, his wife!”

Monday, September 7, 2015

Inhumanity Unlimited: End Of The World?

The still raging mystery of the Sheena Bora murder case is just another reflection of the modern society. It brings out again the erosion of morals, the degeneration of cultures and the fast spreading malaise of depravity, inhumanity and perversion. Ironically, Indian television serials have been decried by many including this writer for portraying devilish characters of grandmas and mothers, but now, these soaps stand vindicated by seeming to show the ‘realism’ in our society. Today’s criminals could be your next door neighbors or people who are a part of your day-to-day existence, and you are at a total loss to anticipate their vile moves that could endanger lives all around you at any moment of time. This is relevant not only to India, but to the whole of modern society across the world. Of course, India with its uncontrollable population and accompanying unemployment is at a far greater risk. 

Of particular concern is the fact that today’s adolescents are emerging as the most dreaded criminals—raping, murdering and plundering. Their mindset has become so atrociously wrong that even terrorists can invade their innards and enroll them as cadres at will. This evil has become so pervasive in India that the Government had to ponder consider and change juvenile laws. However, the menace can no longer be controlled by mere promulgation of laws or rules. They are the largest chunk of India’s population and instead of promising to be the future they are busy destroying the enduring fabric of the country.

Maybe keeping with the degeneration terror has also undergone basic changes in terms of inhumanity and barbarism. It has ceased to be operating on specific targets, but has taken over the charge of annihilating innocent unsuspecting people all over the globe including countries that have no record of terror strikes ever. If we were trying to wish over the horrors of 9/11 by Al-Qaeda or the 26/11 Mumbai attack by Pakistan terror outfits we were not being realistic enough. More lessons in the annals of barbarism had to be learnt with the Taliban ravaging Pakistan and Afghanistan. And then to the most dreaded terrorist organizations, the Boko Haram and the ISIS—the very names inspiring fearful chills down your spine. The US did in fact kill Osama Bin Laden, but even deadlier monsters than Laden have multiplied in the meantime. 

All limits of inhumanity or barbarism are being crossed nonchalantly creating milestones of cruelty at every step. Who could forget the massacre of innocent children in Peshawar making it the worst terror strike ever to happen in Pakistan? Who could forget the massacre of innocent people including women and babies in Assam—a state of North Eastern India? And the horrific details of the ISIS or the Boko Haram, unfolding every moment? A monstrous competition seems to be raging on trying to break the records of barbarity set by one by others. And just imagine, some people in our society are ready even to welcome such depraved deeds by demons.  

Some say that the mythical Kalyug or the age of downfall is at its last phase and that demonic acts are only likely to worsen leading to the shattering climax. So then, is the end near? There is no end of forecasts setting date after date for the Armageddon and the resulting total destruction. The end of the world soon? 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Test Cricket: India Finally Manage To Break The Jinx In Sri Lanka!

India under the young Test skipper Virat Kohli finally managed to break the 22-year no-win jinx in Test Series hosted by Sri Lanka defeating the hosts by 117 runs in the third Test today thus winning the Series 2-1 after wasting a huge opportunity in the first of the three Tests mostly dominated by them. In the first Test at Galle a win for India seemed only a formality when a dismal bout of batting ensured a win for Sri Lanka. In the third Test in Colombo India put Sri Lanka on the mat setting a huge target of 386 runs and capturing three vital wickets for 67 runs at stumps on the fourth day yesterday. They needed to capture 7 wickets today for a series win in Sri Lanka after 22 years, but their bowlers again showed the haunting lack of penetration for most part of today with the scare of Sri Lanka either drawing or even winning the match and the Series looming large. However, at the last moments of the fifth day Ashwin came back to capture 4 wickets ensuring a win for India. In the second Test India won hands down by 278 runs giving the first ever Test victory to Kohli as a captain. Ironically, it was after the second Test that the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara decided to retire from test cricket and in the third Test without this mainstay of batting, wicket keeping and all-round leadership India could not capitalize to a desired extent upon the hosts.

The third and the final Test match between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo has proved to be the best one with the series level at 1-1 prior to it, both teams staging fight-backs from tight situations, tails of both teams wagging and the match stretched to full five days. Sri Lanka gave India an advantage too by opting to field first after winning the toss—maybe because playing without the assured presence of Sanga after some years. However, India struggled to make 312 and in reply Sri Lanka struggled more, but finally able to reduce the lead to just 111. India struggled again and finally managed to reach 274 setting a seemingly invincible target of 386 runs. And finally on the last day today Sri Lanka could not prevent India from creating history by breaking the jinx. Virat Kohli has an away Series win under his belt now. R Ashwin who took a total of 22 scalps was rightfully named the Man of the Series. Unfortunately, Ishant Sharma got a 1-Test ban for his undue aggressiveness on the field and so will miss the first Test against South Africa. Well, if Australians are aggressive it is only natural, when Indians do, rarely though,  it is an offence! 

For India Dhawan, Kohli, Rahane, Rahul, Pujara and Sharma scored quite a few runs each. However, the consistency was lacking with almost all making  big individual scores in one outing followed by flops in the next. Of course, India had the disadvantage of playing without the service of their regular openers—Dhawan and Murali Vijay. Dhawan could not play after a century in the first Test. Vijay played only the second Test. Ravichandran Ashwin’s ten-wicket haul in the first Test went in vain, but Ishant Sharma’s improved line and aggressiveness gave India something to hoot for in the near future. For Sri Lanka too the batting lacked consistency except for the glorious 162 by Chandimal in the first Test and some good scores by Mathews. On the bowling front Herath’s performance in the first Test was memorable with some aggressive bursts from pacers Prasad and Pradeep. Next India go into the home series named Gandhi-Mandela Series against South Africa starting end of this month. There will be three T20s, five ODIs and four Test matches with the first T20 starting on 2nd October and the first Test starting 5th November in Mumbai. 
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